The MLO Minute: By Jennifer Grobe, Esq.
On November 6-9, 2019, Children and Adults with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (CHADD) held its Annual International Conference on ADHD in Philadelphia, PA. At its 31st Annual Conference, 1,100 professionals and individuals from across the country and around the world gathered to discuss ADHD and its impacts.
A question-and-answer session was held at the end of the conference to address the challenges and concerns individuals with ADHD face when transitioning from secondary school to higher education and post-secondary employment. This topic is particularly important as young adults diagnosed with ADHD demonstrate several disadvantages in long-term outcomes when compared to their non-ADHD peers; A 2013 study found the following about young adults diagnosed with ADHD:
- They are far less likely to enroll in a 4-year college.
- 15% hold a 4-year degree compared to 48% of the control group.
- They are 11 times more likely to be unemployed and not in school.
- They are 4 times more likely to be in unskilled vs. clerical occupation, and 6 times more likely to be in unskilled vs. professional occupations.
- 61% more likely to have ever been fired, compared to 43% of the comparison group.
- 53% more likely to have ever quit a job due to dislike, compared to 36% of the comparison group.
- They earned close to $2 per hour less in wages than the comparison group.
Parents of school-age children with ADHD voiced a common concern that although their student is getting passing grades, they still think the child needs more supports/services to prepare for post-secondary success. An appropriate education entails more than simply making grade-to-grade progress. In addition to academic progress, school districts also need to consider a child’s social, emotional, and behavioral growth. Even if a student with ADHD is getting good grades, there are several common educational needs that may need to be addressed, including: school-based anxiety, trouble following rules, disorganization, frequent incomplete/late/missing assignments, and difficulty in the writing process without significant prompting/supports.
If your child is struggling under their current educational plan, you should seek an evaluation from your school district. Students already identified as eligible for special education services are entitled to an evaluation at least every three years. Parents may request the district re-evaluate a student once per year if the child is still struggling in their current program, there are new areas of concern, the previous evaluation was incomplete, or the child will soon be transitioning to college. If you disagree with the school district’s evaluation, you may request a publicly-funded independent educational evaluation with an evaluator of your choosing.
Once you have an appropriate evaluation, you should request an IEP/504 meeting to review the evaluator’s findings and modify the educational plan to address the recommendations of the report. You have the right to include “other individuals who have knowledge or special expertise regarding the child” in the meeting, including outside providers, evaluators, an advocate, or an attorney. If you and your school district still don’t agree on the appropriate level of support for your child, you can seek a due process hearing with the state.
CHADD is an organization dedicated to informing, supporting, and advocating for families and individuals affected by ADHD. If you are interested in joining CHADD’s national network, please contact an affiliated local ADHD support group.